Nurses don’t know everything. If you are a nurse, you know that by the time you graduate from nursing school, your education has just begun.

You learn enough in nursing school to get started in your career, but the education continues every single day. I’ve made a list of terms that I have been asked to define. If I didn’t know the definition, the person might say, “but you’re a nurse!” I’ve come to realize if you ever stop learning you are dead.

Here is a list of terms that family and friends have asked me:

What does moribund mean?

Moribund is a term to describe when a person is near the point of death. The circulation begins to leave the extremities. The limbs feel cold to the touch. The respirations begin to slow as the body prepares to die.

What does Obtunded mean?

Obtunded is an adjective that describes a lowered level of alertness which is due to a medical condition or from physical trauma. An individual who is confused and disoriented due to trauma to the head would be described as obtunded.

What are endotoxins?

Endotoxins are toxins that live in the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria. Endotoxins are not a threat to the body until the bacteria die. This is because endotoxins are the compounds that make up the semipermeable membranes which allow cell respiration to take place.

In other words, these compounds allow nutrients to flow into the gram-negative bacteria and allows for waste products to exit. Once the bacteria die, the endotoxins can cause serious health problems.

What is endotoxin shock?

Endotoxin shock refers to toxic shock. You can understand this if you think about when we learned that toxic shock syndrome could occur if females used tampons without changing them often enough. The bacteria die, and the endotoxins are released into the vagina which can cause toxic shock syndrome.

What is a denier?

A dinner (pronounced dee-ner) comes from the German language to mean servant. In pathology, a denier is a person who assists in an autopsy. In other words, a dinner prepares a corpse to be autopsied and cleans up afterward. A dinner assistant goes to Diener School to learn how to assist in the morgue.

What is a penetrating fracture?

A penetrating fracture is one in which there is an indentation due to blunt force trauma. A skull fracture and nasal fracture is the most common type of penetrating fracture.

What is a linear fracture?

A linear fracture is one that runs parallel or along the length of a bone. A crack or break along the length of a thigh bone or arm bone would be a linear fracture.

What is a compound fracture?

A compound fracture is one in which a bones cut through the surface of the skin. This type of fracture is the most severe because the person who suffers a compound fracture is at risk for infection.

What does afebrile mean?

Afebrile simply means without fever.

What does febrile mean?

Febrile refers to the presence of a fever in an individual.

There are many terms used in nursing and medicine. These are just a few that I could remember being asked about.

Medical Terms You Might Not Hear Every Day

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